In the last six weeks, Herman Cain has raised a whopping $9,000,000 in cash, $2.25 million coming since the sexual harassment scandal broke on Politico late last month. At the rate the money is flowing from right wingers, Cain will have raised more money in this quarter than Rick Perry and Mitt Romney ($20,000,000).
To put it simply, Herman Cain is serving to remind the more perspicacious of us of just how silly politics can be and at how sometimes politics is a mere afterthought in a political campaign. A useful token for the Tea Bagger faction, Cain has helped bring out the worst in conservative voters. He showed it last night in Michigan where he actually courted disaster by making a joke in front of a live mic about Anita Hill, the law professor who’d alleged sexual abuse at the hands of future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. And at his last Republican debate, Cain drew cheers by referring to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “Princess Nancy.”
Indeed, the Anita Hill joke and the namecalling at the expense of the dignity of the former Speaker of the House drew both applause, cheers and raucous laughter, giving the appearance that the Republican base is misogynistic. Of course, that isn’t true. It just looks that way. And in politics, as with everything else, perception is everything.
So why has the perception of Herman Cain being a womanizer resulted only in unconditional support and nearly ten million dollars? Why hasn’t his campaign foundered on no less than five allegations? Largely on the strength of an affair with one woman, Bill Clinton’s presidency nearly ended three years early.
No one is talking about Cain’s ludicrous, <i>Sim City</i>-inspired 9-9-9 tax plan or his suggestion that we ought to electrocute Mexican immigrants like so many mosquitoes in a bug light or his insistence that bills should consist of only a couple of pages. No one’s even talking about his Chief of Staff Mark Block’s Cigarette Smoking Man impression diverting attention from Cain’s ridiculous platform.
Far from being the Teflon candidate, Herman Cain has become the Flypaper Candidate. The more dead flies that stick to him, the more bizarrely fascinating he is to behold. It’s the classic case of the sideshow grotesquery of American politics or what we can call the Palin Effect in which a candidate betrays oneself to be so outrageously unqualified for high public office that appeal to equally bizarre elements of the electorate, grossly, perpetuates and exists within itself.
As does laughter.
Election Day is almost a year away and we still have reams and reams of unbridled lunacy to look forward to from the right wing during the caucuses, primaries and especially during the convention. There’s still time to burn at the sideshow before the acrobats, clowns and elephants come lumbering out with their tired show.
But at some point, we as a nation have to wake up and realize that politics should not be the spectator sport that over half of us have made it. And if you progressive-minded people think that Herman Cain is too stupid, too ignorant, too unqualified and too morally corrupt to be President, allow me to take this opportunity to remind you that just 11 years ago, George W. Bush “beat” Al Gore with just 25% or less of the voting age population voting for him.
And to his unconditional supporters, I will say that it will take a lot more than resorting to name-calling and character assassination to prove that Herman Cain is fit to be standing where Barack Obama is right now and that every dollar for Cain is a dollar that subsidizes misogynism and mediocrity.